Israel’s United Nations Ambassador Ron Prosor published a fiery criticism of Qatar Monday, accusing the oil-rich Persian Gulf emirate of directly funding terror organizations, such as Hamas and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria, in order to assert and amplify its global influence.
In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Prosor urged international powers to work forcefully to halt Qatar’s ability to bankroll the terror groups, specifically Hamas.
“Today, the petite petroleum kingdom is determined to buy its way to regional hegemony, and like other actors in the Middle East, it has used proxies to leverage influence and destabilize rivals,” Prosor wrote.
“Every one of Hamas’s tunnels and rockets might as well have had a sign that read ‘Made possible through a kind donation from the emir of Qatar,’” he added.
Prosor also accused the Qatar-based news network Al-Jazeera, which is funded by the emirate’s ruling House of Thani, of spreading “radical messages that have inflamed sectarian divides” across the Middle East.
“In the early days of the Arab Spring, Al-Jazeera’s coverage of popular uprisings earned the network millions of new followers and solidified its status as a mainstream global news network,” Prosor continued.
“Qatar capitalized on this popularity by advancing its own agenda — namely, using the Arabic network to promote the views of extremists who were undermining the region’s more pragmatic elements,” he said, later singling out the Muslim Brotherhood as the main group enjoying Doha’s support.
Prosor said that Qatar was deliberately undermining Israel’s efforts to end Hamas’s ongoing rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip by “pulling the strings” of the Palestinian organization and forcing the group to reject ceasefire proposals.
“According to a report last week in the pan-Arab daily newspaper Al Hayat, Qatar even threatened to expel [Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal] if Hamas accepted Egyptian proposals for a long-term ceasefire in Gaza,” he said.
It was “all because Doha wants a starring role in any ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel,” Prosor asserted.
The report in the Saudi-owned Al-Hayat could not be independently confirmed. Mashaal has been based in Qatar since 2012, having left Damascus after Hamas broke with President Bashar Assad over the Syrian civil war.
The Israeli ambassador suggested that “in light of the emirate’s unabashed support for terrorism,” FIFA should reevaluate its decision to name Qatar the host of soccer’s 2022 World Cup.
Prosor concluded that the international community must realize that while “Qatar has spared no cost to dress up its country as a liberal, progressive society,” it was in actuality “aggressively financing radical Islamist movements” and destabilizing the region.
“Qatar’s continued sponsorship of Hamas all but guarantees that, whatever happens in this round of hostilities, the terrorist group will rearm and renew hostilities with Israel,” he said. “The only way forward is to isolate Hamas’s last major backer.”
Last week, Germany’s Development Minister Gerd Mueller suggested that Qatar was financially supporting the Islamic State terror group, which has carved out a self-declared Islamic caliphate covering wide expanses of territory on both sides of the Syria-Iraq border.
In a television interview with public broadcaster ZDF, Mueller said it was important to examine who is financing the group, and that “the key word is Qatar.”
German officials, however, quickly tried to smooth over that allegation.
Mueller spokeswoman Katharina Maenz said Friday that he had merely been referring to media reports about Qatar’s involvement. Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schafer said German diplomats in the Qatari capital Doha had met with Qatari officials to reassure them that Berlin considers the country a partner and that “if there were misunderstandings then we regret this.”
Qatar was one of the first Middle Eastern countries to condemn the recent beheading of American journalist James Foley, saying it was “a heinous crime that goes against all Islamic and humanitarian principles, as well as international laws and conventions.”